How to unlock your creativity

Marie Claire Chappet
·5-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

From Harper's BAZAAR

The acclaimed Mexican architect Frida Escobedo is perhaps most famous for her 2018 Serpentine Pavilion; a feat that made her youngest creator of the iconic annual construction. She has been prolific both in her native Mexico City, where she designed iconic urban spaces, and globally; including undertakings at the V&A museum in London.

She shares with us her advice for tapping into your creative instincts, even in the midst of uncertain times.

Find out what inspires you most

"I used to get a lot of inspiration just from walking around Mexico City. I would feel constantly stimulated by a very vibrant city life and also from travelling. But now, obviously, things have changed. At one point I found it really difficult to be inspired and to be creative, because you're locked in a very specific environment, and just looking at the screen for hours and hours. But I started walking around the neighbourhood again, and I think that that has really helped me. I’m learning to be inspired by the sunset from my apartment window every evening now. I think you need to discover what makes you feel the most creative and connect with that- even if you have to adapt in changing times."

Switch off

"Technology is obviously wonderful in so many ways, and has allowed creativity to foster through connections across the globe at this time, but to have that space to create, you really need to step back from it. Otherwise, it just becomes like this overwhelming energy of always being present everywhere and feeling like you're missing out to something else. I try to disconnect at 6pm in the afternoon. After that, I don't reply to my WhatsApp either- my phone is switched off. If you're available all the time, there's no room for creativity."

Carve out space for creativity

"Make conscious efforts to have spaces where you mind is free from interruptions. I think this can sometimes be like a small change of environment or just mentally being able to feel like, this is the time where no one can bother you. It is so important to have those times set aside, we need to carve out those spaces, it is like mentally closing the door on distractions."

Engage with self-doubt before you shut it down

"I started mediating whenever I would feel critical or concerned about my work, and that really helped me in the creative process. But I also think there is some merit to engaging with your own self-doubt. I think broadly, there's something positive about feeling that way. Ask yourself: why do I have self-doubt? Does this help me in any way? And when you see it from afar, then that doubt becomes maybe being a little bit more critical with specific points and then maybe evaluating some others. Sometimes I feel like the worst architect on Earth, but I think that’s all part of the process. I'm looking at myself in these moments of self-doubt, and what would I would tell myself is: this too shall pass."

Untangle your identity from your creativity

"My mother used to tell me that when I was in architecture school, that creative people have very complicated egos. And she meant it in the best way possible, she meant that we constantly need reassurance but, at the same time, we constantly want to make different things. So of course, that is not going to be liked by everyone. The problem is, we wrap ourselves around what we do as if it's totally who we are and then any criticism feels so personal. But if I am seen as a bad architect one day, will that end my life? We have to take a step back from our work sometimes."

Put things in perspective

"Sometimes you need to take the pressure off when stress is blocking creativity. Often, I do this by going for a walk or just talking about a different thing rather than work, and it remind you that, oh, there's another world out there. So that kind of clears your head and then you can go back and think- my life is not just work, there's also another life out there."

Collaboration can be wonderful

"Working with others can completely enhance and enrich your creativity. It is a good way to unlock your instincts. I take inspiration from my team all the time. Don’t be competitive, be nurturing to each other. A lot of my own work is made up of these hugely cooperative projects, it is not just one person’s vision, or just one person’s hard work."

Accept that failure is part of the process

"You need to let yourself know that you're not perfect, you're going to fail and that will be fine. And from that failing you will learn so the next time it will be better and that is kind of reassuring. It also takes time, it is all a journey and you are not expected to nail something straight away. The way I see it, failure is a necessary growing pain of creativity. It’s instructional, but it’s also natural. If we all started to really understand that failure is part of the process, then maybe we can be gentler with people who fail and with ourselves and in understanding that it's a learning curve. We're not meant to be like hyper specialised human beings, because that is not the way life works."

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